Monday, May 7, 2007

My wife and I had the opportunity to complete an adventure race together this past weekend! Thank you to all the babysitter's! We had a lot of fun being outdoors, and got a great workout! It's funny that as we were racing I just kept noticing how many of the wild strawberries are in bloom. I'll have to go back sometime soon and pick them!

Friday, May 4, 2007

Three is company.

This morning I was out by the Muskegon river and noticed three Painted Turtles about 8 inches long and 6 inches wide, traveling together. They were traveling slowly upriver under the water's surface and bumping into each other. Is this typical for turtle mating? Any comments?

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Raccoon skin.

So a while back (Mid winter) I came across a recently road-killed raccoon with a beautiful coloration and thick winter coat. ( You can probably guess where this is going.) I decided to skin my first animal and see how tanning hides works. Imagine me trying to tell my wife I'd be busy for a bit and when I told her what I was doing! She was supportive of my undertaking as whe always is, but understandably grossed out by the idea of a dead raccoon and the idea of me messing with it. I thought it purposeful (to learn to skin and tan) and a good that could come from the raccoon's death.
Anyways ... The skinning went surprising well and I was not grossed out as I expected I might be. I froze the hide for future tanning after making sure no flesh was still attached and all was well until a few days ago when our freezer broke! I had to figure out what I would do with the skin in a hurry. I unfortunately did not have much time and decided on simply experimenting with smoking the skin because I could set up the "smoker" ( a closed barbecue with punky wood and old charcoal briquettes in it) and leave for the day while the smoke worked into the hide. I remembered to only have a very small smoldering fire that only smoked and I made the fur like a chimney for the smoke over the small vent holes in the barbecue's top. I also made sure I would not cook the hide but only expose it to the smoke. At the end of the process I had a stiff but otherwise leathery looking skin with fur in tact. The fur is large enough for perhaps a pair of mittens some day. After working the hide by twisting and stretching it I was pleased to see it came out rather decent for as little effort as was put in. I know that I have a very long way to go, but found smoking the hide a reasonable method for survival situations.


I've always wondered what Huckleberries were. Growing up as a Boy Scout and with an interest in plants (especially edible ones) I was prone to eat any of the fruits I could find in nature. I would savor the wintergreen leaves and berries in moderation. I would eat all the wild strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and dewberries I could find and was especially fond of the wild Blueberries because they reminded me of many summers working on my great Aunt's Blueberry farms.
I always wondered what Huckleberries were and was too prideful before to ask when someone would tell of Huckleberry syrup, jam and other products they made from collecting the wild fruit. The other day I was talking with a lady and she told me how good huckleberries were and I had to ask her how to identify them. As you probably already know they are the same thing as wild Blueberries! I felt so naive! So come to find out I'd been enjoying them most of my life just didn't know what that many people only knew them as Huckleberries!